Friday, 16 December 2011

1812 Encirclement Game

There is mounting interest at the Hall of Heroes about putting on a mega game to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino. In order to get all interested parties together and look at what figures we had so far, we decided to have a small encirclement game.
The idea of the game was to recreate the spirit of one of the attempted encirclement battles early on in the campaign. The Russians drop off a rear guard:
Situation.

July 1812. The barren, dusty, sunbaked trackless wastes of the Western Russian frontier zone. The Grande Armee is attempting to strike hard and fast to isolate Gen. Barclay de Tolly’s First Western Army before he can escape into the interior and link up with Gen. Bagration’s Second Western Army. French horseflesh and manpower has been driven into the ground, but the pace of the remorseless, unforgiving advance must be kept up for one last chance of ending the campaign early. This French force represents the tip of a Northern encircling pincer, poised to encircle and trap Barclay. If the French succeed, and if the Southern arm also succeeds in linking up, the campaign of 1812 will go down in history as Napoleon’s shortest and most brilliant campaign.The very phrase ‘The advance of 1812’ will forever resonate of glory and success…
Small but powerful detachments of the 1st Western are being sacrificed as rearguards whenever the French look like catching up or outflanking the main body. Only the sacred guns and gunners of these detachments need expect to see the main army again, every other sacrifice is worthy of Mother Russia…

Both the Russian and French Commanders were sent strategic level orders, ORBATs and a map prior to the game, so they had a chance to develop their own orders and plans for their sub commanders.
The French Team  L-R: John jnr, Troy, Gus, Matt (genial proprietor of the Hall of Heroes and French CinC), Mick. John the French overall Cavalry Commander, is out of shot checking up on the horseflesh...Matt is new to Black Powder so consequently relied heavily on the advice of more experienced subordinates.
The Russians displayed a slightly more formal approach to their Battle procedure and went off for a conclave elsewhere in the large shop:
The Russian team. L-R Bryan, Motty, Greg the CinC, Max, Dave and Mark, the Cossack Hetman, is explaining to the sceptical Russian Commanders that his brave Cossacks would be better off lurking in the deep forests making hit and run attacks on the French Flanks....Conrad, the Light Cavalry commander, is away checking on the cavalry piquets....
The Russians had to hold the ridge, straddling the only useful line of approach for the French force marching to encircle the 1st Western Army, for 10 moves. All their forces were expendable except for their heavy position batteries. These must not be captured by the French, and had to be evacuated by move 7, or, to justify their retention, the French held off for a further 3 moves...
The Russian artillery commander deploys his position batteries scattered across the ridge. At the time I thought this may have been a mistake, but the French treated them all with respect...
The French mission was to clear a gap in the Russian defences such that the follow on forces could force march through the gap unimpeded to go on and complete the encirclement operation. In practice this would have meant an infantry free gap of 3' and an artillery free gap of 6'...
The French initial deployment dice throwing did not go well, and hit and run Cossack raids from the heavily forested flanks all added to the alarm and despondency...The Russian team visibly started to relax...
The Russian complacency may have goaded Troy into opening the ball on behalf of the French all by himself; at all events his Bde advanced boldly forwards with its right flank wide open...The Russian cavalry remained steadfast to their orders, however, and remained glued to the ridge.
It was on the French left flank that the heavy cavalry attempted to break through...

However the Russians also had some heavy cavalry, and theirs was in finer fettle than the French beasts which were at the end of a long and tenuous supply line...In Black Powder terms the Russian Cuirassiers were classed as Heavy Cav +3, whereas the French Cuirassiers were +2.

By turn 7 it was becoming apparent that if the French were to break through anywhere, it would be on their right flank, where the Russian defences rested solely on a hard pressed small Light Cavalry brigade and the irrepressible Cossack raiders...

 The 2 opposing Light Cavalry commanders on the far Southern flank fought their own private war, with the occasional intervention from Mark's Cossacks. Conrad for the Russian Lt Cav on the left, Blake his opposite number on the right resorting to caffeine... Troy is wondering when he is going to get a gap to exploit....  

However the Russian light cavalry bde, fortunately with organic Horse Battery, held its own, which was just as well since the Russian CinC was ruthless in refusing to reinforce them.

Thus, with the French Heavies bogged down on their Left Flank, the Infantry Bdes in a stalemate against the dogged Russian infantry in the centre, and the Right Flank never quite achieving a break though, we called the game of after move 8 with honours even. The French hadn't made a gap, but at least they had prevented the Russians from evacuating their heavy guns...

Feedback suggests that everyone had a good time, and by and large accept that Black Powder, though sometimes throwing up tactical anomalies, is a good basis for the mega game to come...

5 comments:

  1. Awesome looking game Sparker. Great report and wonderful figures.

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  2. Nice looking game. I am taking part in a refight of Borodino at RAF Leuchars during the holiday. We are using GdeB for that game. Most of my other big games recently have used BP which I prefer for its speed and playability.

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  3. Thanks Gents! Good luck with the Leuchars game - I hope the wx is kind to you up there! Yes whilst GdeBde is perfectly fine, I do feel that BP has the edge for big games especially with inexperienced players...

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  4. Mate,

    Liking the look of the game and have dropped my name to Matt as a starter

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  5. looking good mate,

    I have started my first box of plastic russians only 6 more to put together and paint for Boridino next year!!!!!

    cheers
    matt

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